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WHEN a late ingenious Physician discovered the elastic fluid, which he termed his Gas of Paradise, and which he hoped to render a cheap substitute for inebriating liquors, he claimed the honors due to the inventor of a new plea
-?jHow far mankind would have bene
fited, by the introduction of a fresh mode of intoxication, I leave to the * reflection of those sages, whose duty it would have become to appreciate its value,
as an additional source of revenue to the state. But when I consider the delight with which stories of apparitions are received by persons of all ages, and of the most various kinds of knowledge and ability, I cannot help feeling some degree of complacency, in offering to the makers and readers of such stories, a view of the subject, which may, ex: tend their enjoyment far beyond its for: mer limits. It has given me pain to see - the most fearful and ghastly commencements of a tale of horror reduced to mere common events, at the winding up of the book. I have looked, also, with much compassion, on the pitiful instruments of sliding pannels, trap-doors obackstairs, war-work figures, smugglers, urobbers, coiners, and other vulgar machinery, which authors of tender consciences have
employed, to avoid the imputation of belief in supernatural occurrences.
So hackneyed, so exhausted had all artificial methods of terror become, that one original genius was compelled to convert a mail-coach, with its lighted lamps, into an apparition.
Now I freely offer, to the manufacturers of ghosts, the privilege of raising them, in as great numbers, and in as horrible a guise as they may think fit, without offending against true philosophy, and even without violating probability. The highest flights of imagination may now be indulged, on this subject, although no loop-hole should be left for mortifying explanations, and for those modifications of terror, which completely baulk the reader's curiosity, and disgust him with a second reading.